Archive for the Confessional Category

Starting Over #DoSummer2015 #DoOver

“It’s always best to start at the beginning.” – Glinda, the Good Witch of the North

I have realized something really scary. I am the most emotionally and mentally healthy person in my household, and the most mature.

15yo-wm

Right. I’m the mature one.

But while perhaps I live according to the mantra that Ouiser Boudreaux calls “A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste” far too much, there is, unfortunately, a reason why I am the most emotionally and mentally healthy and mature person in my household.

I realized my life was unmanageable and would remain that way unless I got help.

I made the decision to do whatever I had to do to change.

Sometimes I still fight it tooth and nail because I am still afraid. I spent my childhood living in fear, and it is deeply ingrained in me. What I am slowly learning, and much more slowly than I like, is that it’s ok to be afraid, and push through it anyway. Just like when I run, I’m ready to quit a quarter mile into it. But I keep putting one foot in front of the other because when I finish, I won’t remember how bad that first and/or second mile sucked. I will feel great because I kept going and finished.

I had a sit-down, face-to-face meeting with my sponsor last week. I was in a huge funk, and I needed help getting to the root of what was going on. Plus, I find it is a lot harder to hold stuff back when she’s looking at me. Through the course of processing and reprocessing what was discussed, I decided I need to get back in Al-Anon. I was going to go back to my home group Friday night, but I ended up going to an A.A. meeting instead. As I was adjusting my Friday night plans in my head, and planning out when I could hit the next Al-Anon meeting, I had a thought.

I can have an Al-Anon #DoOver.

I decided I could go to the same Saturday morning beginner’s meeting that I started in, and this time do it right. You know, because I never really worked an Al-Anon program the first time around. I went determined to speak also, but I didn’t really get a chance. However, I recognized someone whom I had met nearly 2 years ago in that room when I first started, and I went and spoke to her after the meeting.

I connected.

2 years ago, I spoke to no one, and tried to quickly get out of there. I was overwhelmed. I had been crying and fighting crying the whole meeting, and I needed to get out where I could. This time, I could tell by remembering how I felt the last time that I have grown quite a bit. I teared up a little, but while it is still automatic to fight it, I didn’t put all my effort into it. But I was also able to laugh and nod my head in understanding with other shares.

I might be a beginner again, but I am no longer a newcomer.

I’m glad to have the chance to start over.

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Let it flow

I never had a clear understanding of the Holy Spirit. I believed there is one, and I believed the doctrine of the Trinity of which the Holy Spirit is a member. But functionally, I believed in the Father, the Son, and personal effort.

To be perfectly honest, I still can’t grasp the concept of the Trinity. I don’t understand the three in one. I choose to believe anyway. It would appear on the surface to be blind faith. But it’s not, even though I can’t point to anything visibly to “prove” it. In my personal experience it has all been internal.

My daughter went to a birthday party a few years ago for one of her friends. I went and hung out with her friend’s mom and another lady while the kids hung out together without moms hovering over them. At the time, we weren’t going to church. But I saw something in Jamie’s friend’s mom when she talked about Jesus. There was such unabashed joy and gratitude that she got a little emotionally overwhelmed and had to sit down. I had never seen anything like that in person.

I wanted that.

I prayed for that.

And nothing much happened — for 6 years.

It didn’t seem like anything was happening. I went to church, I read my bible, I read Christian books, and I read Christian blogs. I looked at my theology and doctrine with “grown up” eyes challenging what I believed to make sure I really believed what I believed because I believed it was true according to scripture or because I was told it was true. Most of my beliefs remain intact, and what changed was all secondary and tertiary doctrine that have no bearing on the foundation of the Gospel.

All those years, my faith was evolving, and growing. God would give me a little taste, and I would want more. I learned to be thankful and grateful for trials because He opened my eyes finally to the truth that we grow through trials, even though it is painful growth. The trials strip away our self-sufficiency, and teach us that we can trust God. I finally reached the point that I trust enough to stop taking my anti-depressant. Just like my childhood coping skills, it served it’s purpose, but I need to let it go.

I need to feel.

I talked to my sponsor about it, and my therapist. I talked a lot more about it with my therapist than I cared to. I have a program now to help me deal with life on life’s terms. I do not wish to continue numbing, even with a prescription. I have to feel my full range of emotions if I want to be emotional healthy.

That thing I prayed for 6 years ago? About halfway through the second song this morning at church, I felt the tears start to well up as I had my hand raised and trying to belt out the song louder than Stacey as she led. The dam broke during the 3rd song and I had to get a Kleenex. The hubby looked at me and asked, “Are you crying?” I laughed and answered, “Yes. I’m off my meds.” I was destroyed before the sermon even started, but as Pastor Nate ended the sermon with prayer, it hit me.

God answered my prayer.

For the first time today, I realized that I was responding emotionally with appropriate emotion. There was a lot of crying (a lot for me), but it was the right kind of tears each time they fell.

It felt cleansing.

Things like this are why I believe the Holy Spirit is the one who does the changing in us, and not our own efforts to change. The Spirit was given to us as followers of Jesus, children of God the Father to guide and comfort us. The Spirit took me on a path I never would have chosen to have my prayer answered. Left to my own, I would still be self-medicating and wondering why nothing was changing,

John 3:8 NIV

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

You can’t put God in a box. You can’t neatly package him up. All you can really do is say like Job,

Job 42:2-3 NIV

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”

Let it flow.

What makes a whitewashed tomb? Part 2

I remember the 80s quite well. I was a teenager for most of the 80s and was completely enamored with the 80s culture of music, fashion, and television. There is still a special place in my heart for shoulder pads despite the fact that I have shoulders that do not need any padding. My favorite running shirts are neon yellow which hearken back to the florescent colors of the mid-80s. I don’t miss the big hair, though. That’s just too much work now.

I loved Ronald Reagan. He was entertaining, and he was strong. He had a great sense of humor, but he wasn’t going to back down from the Soviet threat. Being a cold war kid, and a good old southern girl, communism was the ultimate enemy, and the Soviet Union was it’s preeminent face. God Bless the USA was the ultimate patriotic theme song, and I fully believed that we were the favored nation of God (second but equal to Israel) which is why we were the greatest nation on earth.

There is a lot more to my hard-core conservatism, but I will attempt to sum it up since it’s not particularly exciting. I dabbled in politics a bit as a kid in the 80s, escaped from reality during the early 90s & gave birth in the late 90s (and therefore have a lot of blank areas), and became a news and political junkie in the 00s when I started blogging. I went all in with conservative politics in the mid to late 00s, and looking back, I was a self-righteous ass. Something happened to me just before the 2008 presidential election that I can’t explain. I knew Barack Obama was going to win the election. I had no doubt. I realized that I was okay with that, and I still am. I disagree with him politically about nearly everything, and so I didn’t vote for him either time. But I have just never had this feeling of certain doom with him as president.

Something changed in me. I can’t take credit for it because I had no intention of changing. I was on the right side (pun mostly intentional); why would I need to change? Now that I look back on it, I can see that my focus was on the wrong thing. My patriotism defined me to a large extent and was driven by a narrowly focused mindset that understood valued freedom only as a means for my own personal prosperity and comfort. The poor and the homeless needed to stop spending their money on drugs and alcohol and get a job in order to stop leeching off the government thereby wasting my tax money. Women (and girls) just needed to keep their legs closed. Illegal aliens needed to be shipped back to their country of origin, and by God speak English! One nation under God! ‘Murica!

That attitude reduces individual people who are (just as I am) created in the image of God to an abstract group without faces or names broad-brushed with caricatures and absent of feelings, dreams, and purpose. It is an attitude absent of empathy. It is an attitude that does not love people. It is an attitude that thinks God needs us, and not the other way around. It is an attitude that does not believe “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It is an attitude of fear. It is an attitude that demands treasure now because I said the sinner’s prayer and was baptized and “America is a Christian nation.” It’s us versus them, and we are right.

It’s another type of whitewashed tomb. There is little compassion for the poor, and none for the addict. There are no gray areas, and no nuance. Right is right. Liberals are wrong. We are reaping what they sowed. “God hates fags!” Westboro is the visual and vocal extreme, but while many conservative Christians would never picket funerals nor say it out loud, they believe it. They will say “Sodom and Gomorrah” whenever gay marriage is passed or a ban is overturned because they are afraid of the same. But really, if you read the account of Sodom and Gomorrah, it wasn’t homosexuality that was the problem, it was the rape culture.

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. (James 2:8-10 ESV)

Love is action, not a feeling. Real love is messy. It’s so messy because it isn’t self-serving. It isn’t about getting paid back. It sees a need, does it’s best to meet that need, and does not seek out recognition for what it’s done. Whitewashed tombs cannot love because they are just rocks on the outside and dead on the inside. Raising the stars and stripes over it doesn’t bring it to life. Only Jesus can raise the dead and turn a heart of stone to flesh.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10 ESV)

Wrapping up

This has been quite a year. I did not even accomplish half of my goals for the year. Life got crazy! For most of the year I was not only the only one in this house with a job, but the only one with a driver’s license. That wore me out and sucked up a large amount of vacation/sick time. But Jamie finally got her driver’s license, so the pressure is off to be everyone’s chauffeur. Oh, and we also only had 1 vehicle for much of the year, so I was still on the hook until we got another car.

I got my nose pierced. And I want to get my eyebrow pierced now. I also want a couple of tattoos, but that won’t happen until Petra gets inked.

My mom had a mini stroke. Adding that into the Alzheimer’s mix, she now has 3 distinct personalities. 1, she is still Mom, but has trouble saying the right words. She knows who you are, but can’t say your name. That’s the stroke effect. 2, she is still Mom, but she has no idea who people are. Thanksgiving, she would forget who the kids were, and thought I was Aunt Pearl. That’s the Alzheimer’s. It’s sad, but expected and fairly easy to deal with because she retains that same kind and loving personality of my Mom. But then there is that 3rd one – the paranoid delusional one. This one knows who I am, but thinks people are out to get her. This one infuriates me because she is nothing like my mom. Intellectually I know this is another aspect of the Alzheimer’s, but emotional detachment is not so easy.

The contract I worked on ended, and we switched to a new one with a new company. I got a 4 week paid staycation out of it which was great for the first 2 weeks. Those last 2 weeks, I was calling the security office nearly every day asking if my stuff had transferred so I could go back to work. And the first week back, I filled in as site lead while the site lead was on vacation. 4 weeks of nothing and then a week of everything because I was the only one left with working accounts. I still don’t want to be site lead. Oh, and I took a 10% pay cut. It hurts. But I love my co-workers.

I was forced to admit that I’m an alcoholic. By forced, I mean I was told I needed to quit for a while and I couldn’t. For those who don’t already know. Assuming more than 3 or 4 people read this blog anymore. Once I did the 3rd step, I realized I essentially rededicated my life to Jesus, and decided to get rebaptized as a matter of owning my faith as my own. And I am 11 months sober. One day at a time.

Throughout the year while working on my recovery through therapy, and through a 12-step program (which a LOT of people could really use), I have learned a lot about myself, and have come to terms and dealt with issues that I had never dealt with. I have grieved, and I have forgiven. I have learned to accept responsibility for my actions and reactions, and how to ask for forgiveness. And I’ve learned a few things along the way.

1. Life is more peaceful when you cease to be a victim/martyr.

2. Other people are responsible for their own choices and therefore their own consequences.

3. Life isn’t meant to be lived in isolation.

4. Trying to live up to a manufactured facade of other people’s expectations (real or perceived) will drive you insane.

5. It is okay to feel. Emotions are God-given. But let them be indicators and means of healing rather than living by them. Life isn’t sunshine and roses. You take the good, you take the bad.

Not earned #NaBloPoMo

I do a lot of reading. I was thinking about how many books I have read this year, and then I checked my Goodreads account, and maybe not so much. I’ve started a lot of books in the last 5 years, mostly non-fiction. Many of those didn’t get finished because I would just lose interest. I decided a couple weeks or so ago that I would not start another book until I finished the last book of R.A. Salvatore’s Hunter’s Blades Trilogy. Seriously, I’ve been reading The Two Swords for like 3 years. It’s time to finish. So I did finish it. And it didn’t wrap everything up so I now have to find the next book(s) in the series. Ugh! Or I could just tell myself that I killed King Obould Many Arrows in Neverwinter Nights and call that closure. ;)

The nonfiction I’ve read has been mostly Christian living books and most of those I have come to view as how-to books though that is probably not the intent of the authors. So many of them left me feeling even more that I don’t measure up. Less worthy and more unlovable. Totally inadequate. I had fallen again into thinking that I had to do a bunch of right things to be worthy of God’s love. The false gospel of salvation by works.

It is kind of ironic that while I grew up in church that I really started to learn about who God really is through recovery from alcoholism. In church I learned how to feel perpetual guilt and shame. I learned through addiction that I could numb and ignore my feelings. I made alcohol my higher power. In recovery I am learning that God really is the Higher Power I really need.

I have heard several well meaning Christians over the years say something to the effect of “Just believe in Jesus and your life will be great.” That’s just a subtle form of prosperity gospel which is not the Gospel. I can also tell you that there is a world of difference between being freed FROM sin and being freed OF sin. Salvation does not free you of sin. You are still going to sin. You won’t be perfect no matter how well-dressed and well-spoken you are when you go to church. And if you have a potty mouth, you’re going to say “shit” at church no matter if you’re 18 or 41. Or that might just be me. ;-) The point is, keeping up an outward appearance of holiness is such a deadly façade. It is completely deadly to nonbelievers who consider us hypocrites. Which, by the way, we are because we don’t live up to our own standards if we are truly and completely honest.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Moving on

My name is Martha, and I am a Missionary Baptist deacon’s kid (DK). And I’m an alcoholic. I just reported the latter to my security officer so it can’t be used against me now. My co-workers know too. My mother does not, and I intend to keep it that way because that might be the one thing she doesn’t forget. ;) And I got sober before I got the nose ring. haha! :)

I was told not too long ago that I have been pretty open about blogging about my “junk.” Well, now that I have dragged all of my skellingtons out of the closet to my sponsor (and lived through it), I feel much more comfortable sharing my junk publicly. Because I kept a lot of crap bottled up for so long that I nearly imploded. It’s been a year now since my emotional breakdown which could in a sense be considered my rock bottom even though it took me a while after that to admit that my drinking was a problem that was perpetuating my other problems.

I read a couple of articles this morning that hit home and prompted me to be willing to put some more of my junk out there.

5 Reasons Pastors Kids are Leaving the Church – Guest Post by Emily Wierenga

Do Prodigals Feel Welcome At Our Churches?

I learned as a DK very early how to keep up appearances. I knew the right way to speak around the right people. I learned how to smile and pretend everything was okay. I might have missed my calling as an actress because I kept up quite an act. Things were not okay, and I was not okay. My dad was verbally and emotionally abuse to my mom and I, and it couldn’t be shared. So we suffered in silence. I can’t speak for her, but I can speak for how it affected me. It nearly destroyed me. I learned not to trust anyone, and not to respect authority, but to go through the motions as if I did. Of course that can’t be maintained, and so I would act out. I felt different from everybody like I didn’t fit in.

Then I got drunk, and that changed everything.

It was my 3rd time drinking when I hit that sweet spot of drunk where I felt good. I was confident and relaxed for the first time. I could be myself without analyzing everything that I or anyone else said or did. I enjoyed life, at least until I sobered up. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I never did drink like I “normal” person. I drank to get drunk – trying to get back that feeling of that first good drunk. Sometimes I did it, but more often than not I went way beyond that sweet spot. It became a means to escape. It didn’t matter how many hangovers where I swore I’d never drink again, I was going to end up doing it again. And when I did, I was going to drink until there was no more alcohol or I passed out or I was throwing up. I would feel guilty the next day, but still kept drinking.

I was extremely fortunate that drinking never got me into any trouble with work or the law. I never missed work because of my drinking, didn’t go to work drunk, and rarely went in with a hangover. I never got into any trouble with the law. But for the grace of God, it never progressed farther than having Petra tell me I needed to stop for a while. Which, of course, I couldn’t.

What really stood out to me in the first article I linked above is: “PKs aren’t given a chance to experience God’s grace and mercy; they’re just forced to memorize the concepts.” The same was true for this DK. Grace and mercy took a back seat to following rules to maintain your own reputation among other people. Or rather my dad’s reputation which he destroyed himself.

In the second article, there was this: “And when prodigals bottom out, they often return home and to the church.” I returned to the church before I actually bottomed out, but I nearly left again. I did leave the Baptist way behind because I could still see and feel that pressure to maintain an outward appearance of righteousness. I couldn’t live up to that standard as a child and I can’t live up to it as an adult.

What I can do, though, is learn how to rest in the finished work of Jesus. It took over 30 years for it to finally sink in, but I am not accepted and loved by God because of anything I have done, am doing, or will do. It is through Jesus and Jesus alone that I am made righteous. He paid my debt. I have nothing to earn. The best work I can do on my own is like a used tampon before God. Oh yeah, that’s the literal translation of “filthy rags” in the Bible. But if Christ’s death on the cross is not enough to pay for my sin, it’s not enough to cover anyone’s and none of us have any hope. The justification of salvation is an instant event, but sanctification is a process rather than an event. That is why I can put my junk out without wallowing in the pit of self-pity from guilt and shame due to not being perfect. That’s why I no longer look at trials as punishment but as instruments of growth because they are chipping away at my self-centeredness and my guilt and shame of not being perfect. Only Jesus was perfect.

I have 5 1/2 months of sobriety by the grace of God, one day at a time. I am making peace with my past and letting go by the grace of God, one day at a time. I am learning to open up and call people when I am feeling the insanity of the committee in my head and need someone to talk to and to talk me down, by the grace of God, one day at a time. I am learning to live in the present and not reliving the past or trying to control the future, by the grace of God, one day at a time.

Does anyone know what Christmas is all about?

I didn’t quote Charlie Brown exactly. But it’s close enough. This post will also be a little all over the place. Possibly.

I got a case of the ass last night. Ok, it’s not really exclusive to last night as I usually have a case of the ass over something, but a lot of the time I can keep it in check so that once I calm down I realize it really isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Last night I didn’t keep my tongue in check, or rather I let my fingers fly since I was commenting on a comment on a blog post I’ve been following. I thought I had been mercifully spared from my rash verbal vomit since my comment didn’t show up. I had already commented without using my DragonLady pseudonym, but comment #2 was with “DragonLady” making me think the comment went into the spam hole where it should have stayed. :sigh: But it didn’t, and so if you care, here is the article: It’s Not Us Against Them

I have tried to stay out of the Duck Dynasty drama just like I stayed out of the Chick-Fil-A one. For the same reason, and because it all boils down to a bunch of posturing by both supporters and opposers of Dan Cathy and now Phil Robertson. So I will go ahead and lay my cards out on the table. I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A because of being gluten free and all I ever ate there was the breaded, deep-fried chicken on a bun that I can’t eat any more. I could also mention that their “chicken” is likely of the same low quality as McDonald’s. Oh, wait. I just did. I also have never watched Duck Dynasty nor do I plan to. Generally speaking, I don’t watch TV period, but especially not “reality” TV. Which, by the way, is not real. I will occasionally watch Ice Road Truckers and the similar one with the truckers on the “most dangerous roads” whatever that show is. But I only watch those if my husband has them on and I have nothing better to do. I will also go ahead and state that yes, I believe homosexual activity (same-sex sex) is a sin, just as fornication, adultery, bestiality, and pornography are. Sexual sin is sexual sin before God who gave humans the good gift of sex to be used within the context of marriage between one man and one woman for life as he created it to be. Full disclosure, I am a former fornicator who for many years before and after marriage was addicted to various forms of pornography for the sole purpose of self-gratification. The self-gratification amounted to adultery of the heart. So I am no stranger to the bondage or consequences (which were thankfully pretty light) of sexual sin, and absolutely will not act towards others with judgement and/or condemnation who have or are committing sexual sin because I understand the desire. I have never had to deal with same sex attraction, nor with any sexual attraction to any animal. I do, however, have many gay friends, and several gay family members. I also have had at least one family member who was guilty of bestiality. Therefore, I can’t sit back in my self-righteous ivory tower looking down on homosexuals as an abstract group. They are real people with real struggles who need a real Savior just like I do for the same reason, and not because of the specific way they sin, but because we all sin. This is what I was trying to explain to Chad the other night. The end of the discussion came when he asked if you could “pray away the gay.” I told him if it were just that simple then his dad and I could just pray away the alcoholism and drug addiction.

All that said, this isn’t a post about homosexuality. Nor is it a post where I pledge my support for Mr. Cathy and Mr. Robinson. There is much more at stake in the Kingdom of God than the American right to free speech. I will give my opinion that the reason American Christians are so fired up about losing their voice and influence in the American/Western culture has less to do with standing firm for Christ and much more to do with fear of having to actually suffer for Christ. You know, the way Jesus promised us as Christians that we would suffer with Him if we really follow Him. Because our feel-good materialistic American culture that is the product of 20th century consumerism wants the good life now, and doesn’t really want to give up anything in order to have everything in Christ. We want to have our cake and eat it too.

I think it is all about comfort, and oh, how well do I know the futility of searching for comfort. Comfort is an idol for me almost as high up as my idol of pride. I’ve sought it in books, TV, food, tobacco, drugs, alcohol, sex, church, family, my parents (Mom specifically), friendships, my husband, my kids, running, biking, gaming, pets, blogs, social media. The list goes on and on and on. But none of those things or the myriad of other things bring lasting comfort. Lasting comfort is only found in Jesus. Now that is real easy for me to say, but way hard for me to believe. I know all the trite phrases. I know all the cliches. The Landmark Missionary Baptist deacon’s daughter Reagan conservative has had all the head knowledge for as long as I can remember. It all seems to fall apart when the trials hit because I have trust issues because I have Daddy issues. So knowing and believing were not one and the same for me. Out of sync, if you will. There were a few times over the past year where I spent time in prayer confessing and repenting for not trusting the only One who can be trusted. Why didn’t I trust? Because all of my little gods have always ultimately disappointed me by not becoming the lasting peace and comfort I crave.

Pastor Nate preached about comfort in the light of the Christmas narrative. In the midst of the sermon when he went from Matthew 1 to 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 and explained how Jesus is our comfort because he has already experienced the suffering we do. He and He alone really does know how we feel. Ridicule, betrayal, rejection, death of loved ones, loneliness. But he never really was alone. Not even on the cross. And a light bulb came on for me.

For he has not despised or abhorred

the affliction of the afflicted,

and he has not hidden his face from him,

but has heard, when he cried to him. (Psalm 22:24, ESV)

Sunday night, before I could forget, I wrote down some notes on what I managed to piece together (so far) about how Jesus is my comforter.

When Jesus was on the cross quoting Psalm 22, he hadn’t been forsaken by God the Father. The Father was still there, it just didn’t feel like it. Just like when we are so overcome in our trials and cannot feel God’s presence and wonder if he really is there. But He was there for Jesus and he is there for us because of Jesus. And Jesus really does know how we feel.

There was a brief moment of peace, and the comfort remains. My life circumstances are still as they were, there are still issues unresolved, but I can rest knowing and believing they will one day be resolved, and the broken will be fixed. Even me. Unearned favor. Amazing grace.

So what is Christmas all about? Christmas was the beginning of the end. Immanuel, God with us, the Creator came and lived among the created as one of us. Fully human and fully divine. Laying aside the riches and the power and the glory and honor that He rightfully owns and deserves to become the spotless sacrificial lamb of atonement. Born into poverty in a stable. His family having to flee to Egypt to protect him from being murdered by Herod as Herod slaughtered an untold number of innocent boys aged 2 and younger to protect his throne. Ultimately willingly submitting to a sham trial and torturous beating before a horrendous death by crucifixion under Roman authority to appease the religious Jews. Rising to life on the 3rd day showing that His sacrifice for our sins was accepted by the Father so that we who believe in Jesus by faith are granted grace and reconciled to God the Father though Jesus.

It’s not about our American rights or Western culture. It’s not about sex or chicken or reality TV. It’s not about whether people say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” It’s not about our temporal comfort. It’s about a Savior come to redeem unworthy and rebellious children.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17, ESV)

Maniacal Monday #28

Let me start off with a confession. I didn’t run this weekend. I was going to Saturday, but I slept in, and then we had to go to Lowes, and then I had some Christmas prep to do which took well into Sunday. Plus, it was pretty stinking hot for the weekend before Christmas. Mid 70’s? Really? So I was like “I’ll run Sunday morning because it is supposed to rain and it won’t seem so hot.” Right. It didn’t rain until after 6pm. Whatevs. I start leave tomorrow, and will have the rest of the week to run/bike whenever. ;)

Christmas shows. So, I have several DVDs and one VHS of my favorite Christmas cartoons/claymations. Every year I take the time to watch all of them, though usually not in one big marathon viewing (not that there are that many), and I’ve just been doing one here and there. Last night I watched Frosty the Snowman. Like you care. lol. Anyway, so I am watching it, and the whole thing is just so ridiculously bad. I had to stop myself from voicing my irritation with the whole thing on social media. And then I had to watch The Year Without a Santa Claus to purge. As if that premise of a story is any better. ;)

I woke up with hives this morning. Fun times. I think I went to bed with them, but I didn’t realize the full scope of the itching until I got up this morning. :-/

Friday night I took both kids to A.C. Moore. It was supposed to just be Jamie and to only get yarn. $130 later… :eek: Chad started an “argument” with me on the way back. He was on the offensive, and I was trying to explain my position without being a jerk, but it was hard because I kept getting frustrated with myself for not being able to clearly articulate what I wanted to say. Meanwhile, Jamie was in the backseat laughing at the exchange which ended so ridiculously and abruptly with Jamie almost choking on her food from laughing so hard. She said later, “No one wins when Chad argues.” lol

Speaking of Lowes, we got paint Saturday as James wants to go ahead and paint the living room. Finally. I’ve been bemoaning those gray walls since we bought the place. He also told me how he wants to decorate the house, and essentially, the living room is going to become a “formal” dining room, and the den/family room will be the living room. Lots of work with that, but a lot of it will be finishing what was started in the den/family room.

Apparently Amber isn’t pregnant. And I think Tiger is the one in heat because he seems to be after her much more than she is bawling. Why haven’t I gotten them fixed yet? :sigh: Also, someone pooped in the floor instead of the litter box during the night. Pretty sure that was KitKat.

And finally, here is a little Snow Miser and Head Miser. Because they make that show. :)

Raise your hands

And another draft comes out of the hole. Although, I don’t think what I am about to write about is what I originally intended. Especially now that I remember what it was, but I only had a couple of sentences, so I can just let that go and start over whenever (or if ever) I decide to write about it. ;)

I have a little slightly irrelevant background. I got irked about something early in the summer or late spring. Whenever Pope Francis was chosen and announced. I don’t care enough to look up when that was exactly as it had little to do with him or Roman Catholicism. I got irked over landmarkism that I grew up in. I may have written about it before and how I came to realize it is actually a cult. But this isn’t really about landmarkism. It’s about not knowing what to do with my hands.

I’ve got a theory as to the reason why the churches I grew up in were so stoic when it came to singing. But I don’t really have much to back it up with, so I won’t go there. The fact remains that nothing was done with our hands while singing except holding a hymnal. There was no clapping, no hands raised, no foot tapping, and absolutely nothing that even remotely resembled dancing. Except for young kids who had motions to go along with the little kid songs. Oh, and the song leader (depending on his/her age) would use one hand to keep time while holding the hymnal in the other. Anything else was done by “holy rollers” and/or those who were “putting on a show.”

Now that I am not in that environment, I look at it totally different. I see hands raised, swaying, clapping, practically dancing, foot tapping (I do this a lot), and people just wide open when they sing. And I see people standing perfectly still as they sing. Since I’ve had the privilege to be onstage a lot the last few years, I see it all together with facial expressions and all. It is so wonderful to be able to see that.

Then there’s me. What do I do with my hands? Because that stigma is still rooted in me with what people will think if I go wide open. As if I am still among the churches I grew up in. I remember the first time I raised my hand. There was a part in a song I was leading that was acapella, and a long enough part to feel awkward. But I forced a hand up because it fit with the song. Sometimes I am fine with tapping my foot and “drumming” the pew in front of me. I don’t clap because it hurts my hands…and the hubs can’t keep time which throws me off. lol. But there are times during certain songs that I feel like raising my hands and getting all into it, and I am frustrated that I don’t feel comfortable doing it because of how I raised in church. It’s silly though. I’ve raised hands and gotten all into ball games and concerts. So I think I should feel comfortable doing it at church too.

We’ll see…

Walking a thin line

If I keep at it, I might get everything out of my drafts. Granted this never got any farther than a title until today. I may or may not be able to convey what I want out, but coherence isn’t necessarily a requirement for me to publish a post. ;)

I have always loved music and all kinds. I’m really not a fan of electronica (rave/club) because it is like listening to a migraine. Daddy always had to have either the radio or tv on, so I grew up on country and western. If there was a musical variety show on TV, we watched it. Porter Waggoner, Sonny & Cher, Carol Burnette, Lawrence Welk which came on right before Hee Haw, the Mandrells, and even Donny & Marie. Yes, I just showed my age. Mom said the family used to get me to sing Hey Hey We’re The Monkeys at Granny’s house when I was too little to remember. My younger uncles listened to pop/rock and so I credit them with my early rocker side. And if I liked a song, I was singing it no matter if I could get the words right or not. Honey badger didn’t care.

Back in dem days (my Arkansas accent was pointed out this morning as I quoted the Borg, and so I am throwing it on here too), Walmart sold musical instruments, and decent ones. Guitars, banjos, mandolins, violins (maybe). So any trip to Walmart involved me making a bee-line to that section. Work day at church? Guess who was on the piano. Kids/teens special song(s) at church? I tried my best to become invisible. Yeah, I don’t know why. I never liked doing that. But I wanted to play an instrument. Piano, guitar, banjo, fiddle (not violin – fiddle). Any of them or all of them. I remember having a small toy plasic guitar with strings that were “tunable.” It was 4 strings, so it was closer to a ukulele, and once the strings all broke, they got replaced with rubber bands. I didn’t care. I made so many kazoos with a toilet paper roll, wax paper, and rubber band it wasn’t even funny. But no real instruments, and no lessons.

When I was around 11 or so, Aunt Lena gave me a little piano lesson. She taught me the notes on the white keys. Later Becky Leslie sat down with me at one of the church work days and taught me the flats and sharps (the black keys). After we moved into town, I got a little keyboard which might have had 32 keys. Then one of my friends got a guitar, and another friend tried teaching us, and by the time I was 16, I finally convinced my dad to buy me a guitar. And the beast was unleashed. I took lessons until the teacher stopped teaching, and spent the rest of the time teaching myself, finding out in the marching band trying to play xylophone that while I can technically read music, I cannot functionally read music. In other words, I play by ear. Hence, I played along with my records, tapes, and cds.

Now that I have gotten halfway around Grandma’s mulberry bush, let me see if I can bring this all the way around. I wanted to be a rock star when I grew up. All the hours practicing were for that purpose alone. However, I lacked the nerve to either make or join a band or even play in front of more than a handful of really close friends. At least not without some “liquid courage.” So I still finished college and got a real job, and once I had kids, I knew I wasn’t going to be the rock star I wanted to be.

And then several years later, I found myself drawn to joining a worship team at church. It was great, for a time. But as people left, I found myself increasingly in the spotlight and not really wanting to be there. It became a chore dealing with drama from outside the team, and I finally stepped down from it, and then away from that church. Upon joining another church, I was looking at how to serve, and decided to join their worship team because, really, I just love music. I had to audition, and that scared the crap out of me, which is where I am finally going to get to the point of this.

Remember the lack of nerve? That comes from a lack of confidence. It didn’t matter how many people gave me encouragement, I never thought I was good enough. I didn’t play good enough. I didn’t sing good enough. Yet, I passed the audition, and Bradford keeps putting me on the worship schedule so I can’t be that bad. ;)

So where I am is trying to overcome that insecurity, but not go so far on the other side to get all full of myself. The talent I have and the desire to use it are both gifts from God. To be able to use them for him on a worship team is far better than being a rock star. And as Petra told me, I’m playing for God, not the people even though it is a position of leadership in that we lead the people in worship.

What is this post really about? Bringing my junk out into the open. When I bring my junk out into the open and call it what it is, it seems to have less of a hold over me. So there ya go. A couple of minutes you will never get back. lol :) And I didn’t proofread.